Scott Condon
The Aspen Times

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February 12, 2014
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Insurers talking about bus-tractor wreck

The insurance companies representing the parties in an accident involving a bus and tractor are exploring if an agreement can be reached on liability so the passengers can be assisted with medical expenses and other losses, according to the attorney for Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA).

Attorney Paul Taddune said RFTA’s insurer, Onebeacon, has contacted State Farm, the insurer for the driver of the tractor, and American Family, the insurer for the owner of the tractor about the Oct. 26 accident.

The goal is to negotiate liability rather than going to a potentially time-consuming and expensive trial, Taddune said. “What we’d like to do is frontload it and try to resolve it,” he said.

A RFTA bus was westbound on a Saturday night when it encountered a tractor pulling a mower on Highway 82 about 1 mile west of El Jebel. Both vehicles were in the right lane, according to the Colorado State Patrol accident report. The bus driver swerved into the left lane, ventured into the median, steered back into the highway and rolled after hitting a concrete barrier, the report said.

The bus driver wasn’t ticketed. The tractor driver was ticketed for failing to have a slow-moving vehicle emblem properly displayed.

Eleven passengers were on the bus. Three riders had serious injuries while eight had moderate injuries, according to the state patrol.

Taddune said nine of the 11 passengers have filed notices with RFTA that they might file lawsuits over the accident. The Colorado Governmental Immunity Act requires the notices within six months of an incident, he said. There is a question about whether the lawsuits must be filed within two or three years of the accident, he added.

The immunity act limits liability, if any, to $990,000 for the entire incident and $350,000 to any individual, according to Taddune.

scondon@aspentimes.com


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